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B.F. Skinner: Principal Teachings Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.

Introd­uction: How voluntary actions are affected

Even before Redl and Wattenberg published their sugges­tions for working with the group, a Harvard psycho­logist named Burrhus Frederic Skinner was making intere­sting findings about how our voluntary actions are affected by what happens to us immedi­ately after we perform a given act.

Skinner is respected as perhaps the greatest behavioral psycho­logist of all time.** He published articles and books based on his findings and beliefs about human behavior. During all those years, Skinner never concerned himself with classroom discip­line. However, his followers saw the applic­ability of his findings, especially in regard to encour­aging students to behave acceptably in the classroom. Those followers, sometimes referred to as "Neo- Skinne­ria­ns,­" devised and popula­rized the procedure of behavior modifi­cation which is used extens­ively in different realms of human learning

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40. Behavior modifi­cation (not a term Skinner used) refers to the overall procedure of shaping student behavior intent­ionally through reinfo­rce­ment.This procedure still comprises a major part of many teachers' discipline systems,. partic­ularly at the primary grade level. Constant reinfo­rce­ment, provided every time a student performs a desired act, helps new learnings become establ­ished. The teacher might praise Jonathan every time he raises his hand, or privately compliment Mary every time she turns in required homework.

41. Interm­ittent reinfo­rce­ment, in which rewards are supplied only occasi­onally, is sufficient to maintain desired behavior once it has become establ­ished. After students have learned to come into the room and get immedi­ately to work, the teacher will only occasi­onally need to express apprec­iation. Behaviors that are not reinforced soon disappear or, as Skinner said, become exting­uished. If Roberto raises his hand in class but is never called on, he will sooner or later stop raising his hand


42.Suc­cessive approx­imation refers to a behavi­or-­shaping progre­ssion in which behavior comes closer and closer to a preset goal. This process is evident when skills are being built. Here students are rewarded regularly for improv­ement. Punishment often has negative effects in behavior modifi­cation and hence is not used in the classroom. Skinner believed punishment could not extinguish inappr­opriate behavior.

43. Although Skinner did not concern himself with classroom discipline per se, his discov­eries concerning the shaping of desired behavior through reinfo­rcement led directly to behavior modifi­cation, still used to speed and shape academic and social learning. Years ago many primary grade teachers used behavior modifi­cation as their entire discipline system, rewarding students who behaved properly and ignoring those who misbeh­aved. Very few teachers now use behavior modifi­cation as their discipline system,yet Skinner's principles of reinfo­rcement are applied in classrooms everyw­here.